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All you need to know about protests in southern Iraq

Mass protests in Iraqi Provinces

People are jobless, and there is a lack of electricity, water, and other basic services. All these reasons were the spark that ignited protests staged in Basra and other Iraqi provinces.

What happened last week?

Over the past sixth days, protesters at some southern provinces, including Basra, invaded airports, local councils and main roads.

The protesters in Basra have blocked routes to oil fields, cut off access to the vital export centre Umm Qasr port, and threatened to shut down a border crossing with Iran.

The wave of demonstrations has escalated in recent days, with crowds of hundreds from Basra’s Shatt al-Arab district cutting off the roads leading to the Shalamjah border crossing with Iran on July 12.

 

Iraqi security and medical sources confirmed that 14 Iraqis had been killed and wounded in the protests that erupted in the southern province of Basra. 

 

In Amara, protesters occupied the headquarters of the provincial governorate, threw stones at branches of the Shi’ite Dawa party and the powerful Badr militia, which has close ties to Iran, and beat up policemen.

 

Hundreds of Iraqis stormed the airport and halted air traffic in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf on Friday, extending protests about poor government services and corruption following demonstrations in the southern city of Basra.

As a result, Kuwait has deployed 400 officers along the borders with Iraq as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of its borders.

 

On Friday, protesters gathered in front of the Sheraton Hotel in Basra where Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was staying upon his return from Brussels. The disgruntled Iraqis chanted “get out” as they surrounded the Iraqi leader’s hotel.

 

Earlier in the day, some 100 protesters blocked access to the Umm Qasr port near the southern city of Basra.

 

The situation in southern Iraq is getting out of control as angry protests are taking control of the provinces, according to sources.

 

Iran's role

Observers pointed out that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threats that process of preventing oil companies in the Gulf from working and exporting their oil would start from southern Iraq prove that Iran is standing behind the crisis.

They expressed concern the IRGC militia exploits the ongoing turmoil to spread terror and hamper oil transfers.

Its militiamen will intervene under the pretext of fighting ISIS terrorists, observers added.

The real crises

Iraq’s government will be hard-pressed to improve life in Basra, a crumbling city once dubbed the “Venice of the Middle East” for its network of canals resembling the Italian city.

 

Iraq needs tens of billions of dollars to rebuild after a three-year war with ISIS.

 

Ultimately, there do not appear to be realistic solutions to the present crisis under current political and economic conditions.

 

The new government has not yet been formed, and the new government will be unable to adopt any large economic projects due to its weak structure, which depends on sectarian quotas.

 

This serves as a caution about repeated waves of protest and a rising tide of anger that could put the country on a path to undesirable consequences.

 

Last Modified: Saturday، 14 July 2018 03:05 PM
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